This past week, the world watched on their televisions the devastation and destruction inflicted by Typhoon Haiyan. It is difficult and sad to watch, as the survivors struggle to find shelter, food, and water.
My live-in helper and friend, Leny, is a humble Filipina lady who is reeling from this, as she sits helpless in Singapore, glued to the tv and internet, searching for any news that she can find. Last night, as I was settling down and ready for bed, Leny made herself another pot of coffee. When I questioned this, she said that she wanted to stay up late to watch the news. This is what she has done every night since this disaster.
Her Uncle Alberto was declared missing, but has miraculously survived and has managed to contact her family. Everyone else in her family has survived and is safe.
But her family was one of the lucky ones, as many are still searching and grieving. Both Leny and I know of other Filipina ladies working here in Singapore who have not heard from their families, their whereabouts completely unknown. Their children, siblings, and parents are just gone.
It is hard to comprehend, it really is. In the evenings, Leny and I sit side by side on the couch, watching the Filipino New Channel, with her translating for me. She cries, prays, wrings her hands, mumbles lot’s of “Oh my gosh”s , and cannot pry her eyes off of the television.
She says that many feel her country is cursed, because every couple of years they suffer from Mother Natures fury. She herself has survived two typhoons and severe flooding, the first time when she was only 8 years old. She and her family survived by escaping onto higher land, but their home was destroyed by the flooding. She said that there was a dead cow inside their home when they returned, and that the image of that is still crystal clear in her mind.
In order to help her feel like she was helping her fellow countrymen, to feel like she isn’t sitting still , she and I took action. This week I took Leny to two different groceries here, a Cold Storage market and also a Hyper Giant, where we proceeded to purchase every container of Ramen noodles they had on the shelf. She said that they would take the dirty water, clean it somehow, make a fire, and cook the noodles, she insisted that starving people are resourceful and will manage. I then dropped her off at Lucky Plaza, the mall here in Singapore that has many small businesses run by Filipinos, for a big donation/collection drive that was in process, to drop off our noodles.
Today Leny went back to Lucky Plaza to volunteer with the donation drive, helping to organize and pack up food and clothing. She is there now, and I am sure she will return home tonight exhausted, physically and emotionally, but content with knowing that she has helped.
The amazing part of this is how I see the people of Singapore coming together to help. I see expat and native children hosting garage sales, selling their toys, hoping to raise money. I see bake sales and lemonade stands in condos and apartment buildings. When I was at my kids school this week, I saw several kids with donation drives in full force. I see Singaporeans, Chinese, Australians, and Indians all working together to find ways to help.
If you would like to help, here is a link with many different organizations, I’m positive that you can find one here that will work for you. From the bottom of my heart, and Lenys as well, thank you for your thoughtfulness and prayers!